Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Quick Tip:
My Most-Used Kitchen Tool,
a Garbage Bowl or Compost Bowl

The one kitchen tool I use every single day, a Rachael Ray-style "garbage bowl" and "compost bowl".

A garbage bowl or compost bowl, the most-used tool in my kitchen.

This is the latest in an occasional series of posts I'm going to call "One Quick Tip" ... because, well, each one will include a single quick tip, quick to absorb, easy to adopt, memorable to use.

Thanks to everyone who sent in tips last month, I'm busy incorporating them into my own kitchen, you are so creative! Isn't it the little things we do that some times make all the difference? Thank you!

Do you have One Quick Tip you'd like to share? Leave a comment or send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. This week, I'd love to hear how you deal with a kitchen's "mess" – y'know, garbage, food scraps, recycling, used cans and bottles, etc. Old or new idea, big or small idea, I'd love to know how you run your kitchen!


"A good artist copies, a great artist steals." Whether Pablo Picasso ever said this, who knows but I'll confess here and now, I "stole" the garbage bowl idea from Rachael Ray at least a decade ago.

EVERY SINGLE DAY But I use a garbage bowl every day, in fact, multiple times per day! What other kitchen tool gets the same use? Think about it, is there anything? Not in my kitchen!

GARBAGE-BOWL EFFICIENCY A garbage bowl is all about saving time and steps. The idea is to have an efficient somewhere to put cooking "garbage" (vegetable trimmings, butter wrappers, etc.) without extra steps for multiple trips to a garbage can, no matter where you're workspace is. A garbage bowl is especially useful in a large kitchen or an inefficient kitchen or a kitchen where garbage is kept under the sink or inside a cupboard. Friends have a trash compactor, the open-n-close routine would drive me crazy!

GARBAGE BOWLS FOR REAL-FOOD COOKS What I find, however, is that my cooking generates few cans, bottles and paper packaging and that when it does, they go to recycling. So my garbage bowl isn't a "garbage bowl", it's a "compost bowl" – used only for vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, no meat, no dairy. And I STILL use it every day!

NO PURCHASE REQUIRED For years, my garbage bowl/compost bowl was an empty Folgers coffee tub, easy to throw in the dishwasher, about the right size for a day's worth of vegetable scraps. But when we finished the new kitchen last summer, I splurged on two large melamine bowls, aren't they pretty?! There are other colors too but I do love the bright green!

WHAT TO LOOK FOR Because the new kitchen has two sinks, I bought two bowls, one for each sink. But it turns out that the small vegetable-prep sink isn't as useful as it sounded – it's one of two choices I regret in the new kitchen. But I still love having two bowls. Here's why:

The two bowls stack so take up the space of just one.
They fit in the right sink, out of the way of the main sink. I suppose I could find room underneath the sink to store these but honestly, they "live" in the sink full-time.
When one bowl is full, there's another for overflow. When I'm in rush-rush mode cooking dinner, no trip to the compost pile required.
Even completely filled, two bowls aren't two heavy to carry outside, one in each hand.
When two of us are cooking, yep, his'n'hers garbage bowls!

MUCH TO MY SURPRISE Vegetable scraps create no odor, even in a warm kitchen in summer, even collecting in a big pile on the far side of the garden. We're not yet experts in compost, beyond noticing that the resident woodchuck is especially fond of corn cobs and citrus. More on that later if we learn something interesting!

ALTERNATIVES Again, no need to buy something special. Could you use a vegetable bag from the grocery? Of course. Could you use yesterday's newspaper? Yes! Could you use a bowl you already own? Absolutely! Or what about an ice cream bucket with a lid? Sure!

THAT'S IT! Really! One Quick Tip! What do you think, would a garbage bowl or compost bowl work in your kitchen routine? I'd love to know what you think!


More One Quick Tips

How to Freeze Tomato Paste





© Copyright 2014 Kitchen Parade



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spinach Salad with Fruity Vinaigrette,
Fresh Fruit & Maple-Glazed Pecans

The Recipe: A big dinner salad, fresh and green with a rainbow of fruit and g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s Maple-Glazed Pecans, all lightly dressed in a Fruity Vinaigrette. It works for one or two but scales for feeding a crowd.

The Conversation: How to construct a late-winter salad in the Midwest.

Spinach Salad with Fruity Vinaigrette, Fresh Fruit & g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s Maple-Glazed Pecans, works for one or two or serving a crowd. Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2, KitchenParade.com

Mine is a northern soul but come February, I pixel-peer with envy into the eden-esque citrus gardens of California and Florida. Grapefruit, tangerines and oranges, oh! the oranges. And lemons. The wonder of those trees, such abundance, fruiting with such abandon.

Not here, though, not here in the Midwest.

Constructing a late-winter fruit salad here in the Midwest is tricky. I love our dear family companion Olga's Winter Fruit Salad that uses frozen fruit: it's a godsend but also more of a dessert fruit salad, a light end to a special meal. And there's a winter-fruit version of Mexican Fruit Salad, easily sourced tangerines, apples, pears, bananas and pomegranate with savory spices.

Here though, I envisioned a savory salad, fresh and green, a big dinner salad that easily scales from dinner for one or two to feeding a crowd. With dark-green spinach leaves for their slight bitterness (Vegetables 101: What Are Bitter Greens?). And a rainbow of bite-size sweet fruit pieces, all fresh, none frozen, fruits easily found in supermarkets this time of year. A burst of sweetness from gorgeous Maple-Glazed Pecans.

Outside, the earth is soaking with snow melt. Just yesterday it was too icy to walk in the morning but by afternoon, the streets filled with cabin-fevered school kids on bicycles, parents pushing strollers and too-long cooped-up dogs pulling against their leashes. Soon, truly, it shall be spring and then, turn, turn, turn, summer shall follow. But until then, there's salad, fresh and green and full of life and hope.

CHOOSING FRESH FRUIT Some fruits will "hold" better than others if prepped up to four hours before serving: apples, pears, mango, kiwi, orange sections and pomegranate seeds. Others will do better if added to the fruit bowl just before serving: blueberries, strawberries, say. Oranges are especially good in this salad. In January, we were gifted some honeybells (thank you, Charlie and Jan!), a mix of tangerines and grapefruit, they were gorgeous. I halved them and cut out the sections with a grapefruit spoon. They were so sweet and juicy, we even skipped the Fruity Vinaigrette! If you can identify seedless oranges at the grocery, they're also good. Pears usually need to sit on the counter for two or three days before they're ready to eat. The "big" fruits (apples, pears, mangoes) are better choices when feeding a crowd because if you use the whole fruit, it adds up to a whole pile of fruit. For one or two, better to stick with individual fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, etc. – or choose small fruits or save the leftover fruit for smoothies! "Where there's a will ..."

MAPLE-GLAZED PECANS Recipe here, Maple-Glazed Pecans! They're gorgeous! Otherwise toasted nuts work beautifully or look for small bags of sweet nuts near the salad greens at the grocery store.

ALANNA's TIPS The Fruity Vinaigrette may taste "sharp" on its own but really works when paired with fresh fruit and the glazed pecans. Go ahead, cut up an avocado for this salad, so good!

SPINACH SALAD with FRUITY VINAIGRETTE,
FRESH FRUIT & MAPLE-GLAZED PECANS

Real Food. Vegan. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Paleo. Primal.
Hands-on time: minutes
Time to table:
Serves 12 (easily divided for fewer servings)
    FRUITY VINAIGRETTE
    (enough for two Spinach Salads)
  • 3 tablespoons fruity vinegar (raspberry, orange, etc.)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed between your fingers
  • 1/4 teaspoon good salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
    FRESH FRUIT
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Red-skinned apple, diced small
  • Green-skinned pear, diced small
  • Mango, diced small
  • 2 kiwi, skinned, sliced and halved or quartered
  • 2 seedless oranges, sliced (How to Cut an Orange for Slices)
  • Other fruit ideas: pomegranate seeds, fresh pineapple chunks, blueberries, sliced strawberries, fresh avocado
    SPINACH SALAD
  • 12 ounces fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
  • Fresh Fruit, half to mix in, half for the top
  • Maple-Glazed Pecans half to mix in, half for the top
  • Fruity Vinaigrette, a tablespoon at a time

FRUITY VINAIGRETTE In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, basil and salt. With one hand, pour the olive oil into the bowl in a steady stream, whisking it in with the other hand. Taste and adjust seasoning. Can be made ahead of time to store in the fridge but return to room temperature before dressing the salad. Makes about 5 tablespoons, you won't use it all for this salad.

FRESH FRUIT Up to four hours before serving, toss the lemon juice and fruit to prevent both browning and drying out. Keep at room temperature, stir occasionally.

SPINACH SALAD In a large bowl, gently toss the spinach, half the Fresh Fruit and half the Maple-Glazed Pecans with the Fruity Vinaigrette, a tablespoon at a time, until it's the "right" amount of dressing to your taste (I use about half the dressing). Top with the remaining Fresh Fruit and Maple-Glazed Pecans.

LEFTOVERS If left undressed, the combined spinach leaves, Fresh Fruit and Maple-Glazed Pecans will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Fruity Vinaigrette Only, Per Tablespoon: 42 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 116mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW Points Plus 1.
Spinach Salad & Fruity Vinaigrette, Per Serving: 57 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 47mg Sodium; 12g Carb; 2g Fiber; 8g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW Points Plus 2.
Spinach Salad & Fruity Vinaigrette & Maple-Glazed Pecans, a tablespoon of Maple-Glazed Pecans adds one point, either Old Points or PointsPlus.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite salad recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

A Real Gift: A Giant Salad Bowl


Spinach Salad with Fruity Vinaigrette, Fresh Fruit & g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s Maple-Glazed Pecans, works for one or two or serving a crowd. Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2, KitchenParade.com

We are the keeper of the family's "big salad bowl" – the gift of cousin Laura, who so often brings salad ingredients to big family get-togethers and found our small salad bowls, shall we say, wanting? Much to my surprise, I pull it out all the time!

The interesting thing? Having an abundance of salad seems to encourage people to help themselves to big servings, some times to start a meal, some times to end it. The salad is often long gone, leaving the sweets lonely for attention.


This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2013

Chicken Cacciatore (<< personal favorite) Greek Feta Chicken Mushroom Soup Pork & Poblano Skillet Gashouse Eggs My Mom's Pancake Recipe Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce Sugar-Free Raspberry Bliss Orange-Kissed Marshmallows No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock

This Week, Elsewhere

Oven-Baked Oatmeal from Half & Half
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Easy Spinach Nests
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture


More Spinach Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Spinach Soup with Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing Shrimp with Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta
~ more spinach recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ Healthy Creamed Spinach ~
~ Orzo with Spinach ~
~ Lasagna Soup with Fresh Spinach ~
~ more spinach recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog

More Fruit Salads for Late Winter

Grape Salad with Almonds & Cilantro Winter Fruit Salad Roasted Pear Salad

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)





© Copyright 2014 & 2015 Kitchen Parade



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Sauce In-a-Flash

Just ten minutes and a few pantry ingredients, you've got chocolate sauce!

Homemade Chocolate Sauce In-a-Flash, just ten minutes and a few pantry ingredients, you've got chocolate sauce.

Okay, people. I’m gonna make this quick because you’ve got Chocolate Sauce to make and I.Mean.Now.

And I don’t want the time it takes to read these few words to exceed the time it will take to actually make the stuff.

So go. Check if you must but odds are high, the ingredients are in your pantry.

Although on second thought, first find someone to send on an ice cream run because by the time this dark, dreamy stuff is ready, the only way to hold yourself back will be to drizzle it over ice cream.

Otherwise, you know this drill, right? it would be invert squeeze bottle, straight into a spoon. (Cuz polite women don’t sweat and wouldn’t ever, I mean e-v-e-r, pour this straight between our, um, dare I say it? open lips.)

So git. I mean it, go.

Last spring, I made four quart jars of chocolate sauce for a gourmet group. What an assignment! But oh-my, did I ever learn the in’s and out’s of chocolate sauce.

There’s no such thing as a bad chocolate sauce, once it’s warmed and drizzled over ice cream.
There is a fine balance of sweetness and chocolate-y-ness. Too much of either one and the chocolate sauce overpowers instead of enhances.
There are two basic styles of chocolate sauce. One is melted chocolate “milked” down to something pourable. The other is a chocolate “syrup” – more viscous, more glossy, more nuanced and frankly, more sweet. Tastes vary, of course, but my taste leans to the syrup side.
Most of all, I learned that you can make Homemade Chocolate Sauce in about ten minutes flat, no fancy ingredients, no fancy equipment, no thermometer, nothing. What a revelation!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite quick chocolate recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
In-a-Flash

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 1-1/2 cups (easily halved or doubled)
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar, white or brown
  • 4 tablespoons (85g) light or dark corn syrup
  • 12 tablespoons (70g) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Hersheys dark cocoa, lumps broken up with the back of a spoon
  • 12 tablespoons (180g) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons half & half or heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon flavoring (vanilla, almond extract, brandy, bourbon, etc.)

In a heavy saucepan with room for the sauce to “poof up”, bring the sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, water and salt to a boil, stirring often. Let it boil hard, stirring continuously, for about three minutes until slightly thickened. Go ahead, enjoy this, we don’t get to “boil hard” very often! The mixture will be syrupy but will further thicken in the refrigerator. Stir in the cream and flavoring.

Strain through a sieve into a glass storage jar or a squeeze bottle. Don’t skip this step, even if your chocolate sauce appears ultra-smooth, it’s not! Refrigerate, keeps for several weeks.

For chocolate milk, stir together a quarter cup Homemade Chocolate Sauce and a cup of skim milk.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon: 50 Calories; .5g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 64mg Sodium; 12g Carb; 1g Fiber; 9g Sugar; .5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1, WW PointsPlus 1 (but careful PointsPlus counters, 2 tablespoons = 3 points)
ALANNA’s TIPS It’s important to strain Homemade Chocolate Sauce, otherwise some small clumps of chocolate powder mar the silky texture. I place a small sieve inside a funnel inserted into a glass storage jar. A single batch fits neatly into a one-pint Mason jar, nice for gifts! For vegan Homemade Chocolate Sauce, omit the cream but I really like how cream takes the edge off the chocolate-y-ness. David Lebovitz likes to stir in two ounces of grated bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (recipe here) but to my taste (and my taste testers, drizzled over bread pudding a couple of weeks back), this is too chocolate-y. Some times I slip in a smidgen of cinnamon or cardamom for a little something extra.

This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2013

Chocolate Decadence Finnish Fruit Tart All Courses Lavender: An Easy Romantic Dinner Cinnamon Sugar Cookies Poblano Steaks Roasted Pear Salad Cut-Out Spice Cookies Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots Seared Scallops with Chimichurri and Garlicky Polenta

This Week, Elsewhere

Angel Hair Puttanesca from Mia Sorella
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Buffalo Chicken Dip with Spaghetti Squash
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture


More Chocolate Recipes for Your Sweetheart

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Vanilla Brownies Chocolate Decadence Cake Black Walnut Chocolate Cake

More Recipes for Romance

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Lavender Steak & Lavender Potatoes Roasted Salmon & Asparagus Italian Lemon Chicken





© Copyright 2014 Kitchen Parade